|Approximately 6:30 race morning. I have already been awake for 2.5 hours...|
Anyway, the race itself. I woke up a number of times, exactly one hour apart, during the middle of the night, in anticipation. I wasn't worried that I would sleep through my alarm - I am far too light a sleeper for that to ever happen - but I was keyed up. The final time I woke up was around 3:50 - a full hour before my alarm. I lay in bed for a while, trying to will myself to get just a little more sleep, but gave up around 4:30. In the end, that was fine - it gave me time to do a few sun salutations to stretch out, make and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, drink a cup of tea, use the bathroom, get dressed, and out the door by 5:20. I wanted to leave that early because I was worried about parking and getting to my proper corral on time. I really didn't need to worry. I found a good parking spot almost immediately and decided to walk over to the convention center to stay warm and find a bathroom until it was time to head to the starting area.
This is when I started to wish that I had a running buddy. There were so many people there, and most of them were in pairs or groups, chatting and planning and finding ways to stave off nerves. I did see people I knew, and I said hi, but I didn't come with anyone, and wouldn't be running with anyone. I didn't even have my iPod, since the race instructions discouraged using them. I almost always run by myself, and I often turn off the iPod part way through a long run, so it wasn't as if this was a new experience, but a race is a different sort of event than a solo training run. It would have been nice to have someone there to share it with, this big new experience. As Winnie the Pooh says, "It's so much friendlier with two."
Eventually, everyone else at the convention center with the same ideas as me started heading for the doors, so I did too. We were divided up into starting corrals, to make it easier to actually start running, once we hit the starting line. I intended to try to stay with the pacers who were leading the 4:25/2:12 group, but that idea fell by the wayside as they got started at a faster pace than I was wanting to go right then. So I stuck with the pacer on my watch, trying to keep from going out too fast. Mostly, that was my whole strategy - stick with the pace I had on my last training run for the first half or 2/3s of the race, then try to pick up my pace near the end.
|Slightly crazed race smile, check. Photo by Charlee Hinton|
And that is what I did. I am not going to bore anyone with my mile splits (although I will, if you ask), but basically, I kept a steady pace for the first half, and then started going just a little faster every mile after that. I was almost sprinting by the end. I was also incredibly happy that, when we reached the point around mile 12 where the marathon course split off from the half marathon course, I was not going to have to run another 13 miles!
The weather this year was just about perfect - not too cold, not too hot, not windy, not rainy. I could have used sunglasses, but compared to past years when it has been sleeting or thundering, that is a pretty good complaint to have.
Overall, a good race. There were lots of aid stations with water and Gatorade (and porta-potties). There were also quite a few informal aid stations handing out beer in tiny cups, and some with donuts or candy. I snagged a peppermint from a police officer somewhere around mile 7 or 8, but avoided the beer and donuts (the former with no pangs - even if I did like beer, 7 AM is too early for me - and the latter with a bit of regret, although I knew my stomach thanked me). Around mile 12 there was a gauntlet of people handing out beads and lipstick - in case you wanted to get fancied up before hitting the finish line. This, I didn't like. I was trying to pick up speed at this point, and I kept having to dodge people who really wanted me to have beads, not to mention the discarded tubes of lipstick.
Now that I am done, I am already plotting out my next race. There are several 5K and 10K races that I have run in the past coming up, but I kind of want to do another half. Not really soon, but maybe in the fall. I want to see if I can get faster!
And I want another medal!